There's a lot of war literature that has been written over the years, I'm not talking about like histories or things like that, I mean fictional data that is based on the tragedy of War.
Out of all of it ever written....you can actually divide ALL war fiction material into TWO categories. The first being "romance war books" and the other category being "un-romanced war books."
I know it is brazen to divide every single fictional piece of data written on wars into two polarized categories...but unfortunately it is true.
Firstly, Romance War literature regards the domain of Good Guys versus Bad Guys and promotes a "ra-ra-ra-Go-Team" sort of theme behind it. Some romantic war books are so sappy they feature Fencers who have a rose in their mouth at all times while conducting these super-fun nobleman wars. They feature characters that you wouldn't exactly find on a battle field in reality. These pieces of literature present war as a fun activity that is noble/heroic/right as the heroes defeat the villains.
Examples of Romance War book are the Epic of Gilgamesh where the noble King Gilgamesh defeats his enemies and saves his people from a flood (this story was re-worked into the bible/kuran), or War of the Roses...a highly pompous regaled affair about who gets to sit on the Throne of England. The most widely-read Romance War book of all time is Three Kingdoms which details the War-Triangle (as opposed to the Love-Triangle writing tool) between the regal Liu Bei and his foes Cao Cao and Sun Jian.
Romanced War books Main Textile: War is a heroic, noble, and pretty fun little game.
Secondly, the other polarized group of war fiction data is Un-Romanced war pieces. These tend to present the topic of war as un-heroic, disgusting, wrong, insane, and bad. You're not gonna have too much ra-ra-ra cheerleading in these...and when you're done reading them you're gonna walk away from it feeling quite depressed and even queasy. This may not be as fun, or pump-up-able as a Romance War book but these Un-Romanced books are aiming to be more realistic. They don't want to get you pumped over war....at all. They want you to have a negative opinion on war.
We're going to look at a few good examples of these in depth in the second section of the article. Just to throw out a few now....a good modern day example is something like Full Metal Jacket where the "heroes" aren't really heroes...they are unbalanced weirdoes who are thrust into a situation they can barely even function in and try their best to kill before being killed. There's nothing very heroic about the "heroes" of Full Metal Jacket. Another good example is the Japanese film Grave of the Fireflies....which depicts two Japanese orphans during WWII and it is probably like the saddest friggin' movie anyone's ever made. Those two japanese kids did not have a good n' fun time in that war movie that's for sure. Those two kids had no fun at all in that war movie.
Non-Romance War books Main Textile: War really sucks, it's gruesome, devastating, awful, terrible, and just simply no fun what-so-ever.
Mind Set of the Writers
When reading old fiction datum it is fun to try and think of what the writer/composer of the text had going through their mind at the time. I do honestly think, the Romance War books, are written by a certain subset of the given era's population which were probably of a very privileged background.
I was sitting in this building once, I forget why I was there, to deliver something I think for some job I was doing, and this building was the Black Watch "armory" in Montreal. It's called an armory but it's more of a little lounge-club for older military types to hang out at. I saw a documentary once called, The Valour and the Horror, which claims that the Black Watch contingent came into the new-era World War back in the day very unprepared for WWII and marched up to the enemy's new-age firearms (gatling guns) and were just mowed down, yet the general told them that real men don't retreat, so they all marched proudly into the bullets to be mowed down one by one. I don't know if that account is true but this is what that movie claims...I think it's maybe exaggerated a bit.
Anyways, in the Black Watch building I was in a few years ago, I saw a painting hanging in the main room over the fireplace which made me think twice about that Valor and Horror movie....it was a portrait of Prince Charles (yes the dopey Prince there who does the homeopathy talks and has no use/function in life that you see on TV all the time)...it was a portrait of Prince Charles on a war steed with a glorious sabre....and I thought to myself...this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen in my life. This portrait of Prince Charles depicted this way is absurd.
That portrait really made me remember that scene in Valor and Horror where they claim the Black Watch was a group of unprepared children ordered to walk into gun fire by their officers and die like cannon fodder. The portrait of Prince Charles on that horse with that sabre was so odd looking that it made me really start to honestly question whether the claim made in that film might be true. Because something about that little military lounge was just downright silly.
I believe the mindset of writers who write Romance War novels are the same type who can commission a portrait of Prince Charles on a steed with a sabre and not laugh at that when it's completed. They can look at a painting like that and think of Heroism and Ra-Ra-Ra whilst looking at Prince Charles depicted as a war hero.....but honestly, who can take a painting like that seriously? You need to be a special kind of retard to not laugh at a painting like that.
With regards to Writers of Un-Romanced War fiction, I think they have a far more realistic view of what war is actually about than the Romance people do. That's pretty much a fact.
The case of Three Kingdoms is interesting though. There's theories in China that Luo GuanZhong was commissioned by the government to write that and after he was done he was angry about what they made him write....so he wrote Outlaws of The Marsh (a story about bandits uniting together and fighting government officials) under a pseudonym years later in his life. I think that's a common theory now-a-days actually in China. The current form of Outlaws is pretty Romanced but it is suspected by Chinese Historians to have been heavily edited and believed in its original manuscript to be a very a Un-Romanced style work.
Choice Examples of Un-Romanced War Media
Okay, it's not that I want to spend more time on Un-Romanced works than Romance works and I don't necessarily think Un-Romanced is better. I mean, Three Kingdoms is still one of the most well crafted texts I've ever seen in my life....but I think in this day and age it is more normal to write Un-Romanced for sure. Romance War media is seen a sort of odd and out of place now. Like a modern Romance War movie like Black Hawk Down for instance is one of the most terrible films I've ever seen. It's this ra-ra-ra go-team movie about War-Boys fighting hordes and hordes of ravenous Africans...Black Hawk Down is almost like a zombie movie...it's fucking atrocious. Romance war movies really don't seem normal in this era, I find. The African people they were fighting didn't even have personalities...it was like the heroes were fighting monsters. It felt like a propaganda movie from the 1930s or something that Black Hawk Down. Romance War media really does seem odd in this modern era.
These next examples are good examples of Un-Romanced War fiction.
1. Johnny Got His Gun (by Dalton Trumbo)
This book is about a guy who got blowed up in the war and lays in a hospital bed for an entire book just thinking about stuff. He has no legs, no arms, no hands, no feet, no ears, no eyes, no nose, no nothing but a brain and a chest and some organs.
They keep him alive with tubes and liquids and stuff and he just lies in bed....thinkin' 'bout stuff....like his past, his old jobs, his old friends, his old love. Things like that. He never thinks with punctuation though. Just periods. Never any dumb commas or stupid things like that. He only needs periods really this guy. He has no fucking arms and legs what the fuck good are commas to him?
He thinks in short chunky thoughts. Never really here nor there. Old memories he takes some time thinking about or maybe he thinks about the rats crawling over him that he can't get off cuz he's got no friggin' opposable appendages. Poor guy.
Finally near the end he starts thinkin' 'bout war and goes into this big diatribe about how if he was running things NO ONE WOULD GO TO WAR AND NO ONE WOULD GET BLOWED UP! NO ONE WOULD LIVE LIKE THIS! HE EVEN GOES INTO CAPS LOCKS TO THINK ABOUT THIS STUFF.
It's a good book, really. I like the writing style of it....I'm not huge on commas and shit either. Trumbo was arrested and detained for UnAmerican Activities for writing this book. So if you read it you can hold it and go "wowee! This guy was arrested just for writing this thing!"
I think writing-style wise alone this book is very unique and interesting.
2. The Wars (Timothy Findley)
This book is about this kid who is pretty excited to go to war with the pistol his parents got him and to be like his hero, this cool guy from his neighborhood named Eugene Taffler....but war turns out to really really suck and he winds up trying to save some horses from a fire and then going completely bonkers. Poor kid, he just wanted to be a kid really....He didn't really want to go to war and die and everything.
3. Slaughter House 5 (Kurt Vonnegut)
This book is about a nonchalant youngster who gets sent into a war and he doesn't really know what the fuck is going on, he gets captured, imprisoned, and fire-bombed, oh and all his friends around him start dying one by one...and then he gets so out-of-it and just wants to distance himself from his world that he actually zones out into outer-space and this alien lets him look at past moments of his life and explains to him that it takes no less than seven people causing 7 seperate action-chain events to create one human life.
Yo, this book is fucked man. It's pretty cool.
4. Suikoden II (Yoshitaka Murayama et. al)
This game, based on Outlaws of the Marsh and other fragments of Chinese history, is the story of two friends who unwittingly end up leading opposite sides in a civil war. They're best friends and don't want to fight each other but circumstances and reasons on both sides dictate they must fight each other to end this civil war.
The character you play as wins...and when it comes time to lead his newly united country as President....he just says goodbye to good ol' Viktor and walks out during the victory celebrations. He never wanted to fight this stupid war. He goes to meet his friend who lost the civil war just days before against him, and his friend wants to duel him. After fighting each other in a long and bloody war for 2 years...they grow tired of this duel as well...and they both just lay down their weapons and walk off into the sunset to travel the world like vagabonds.
What were they fighting this war for? Who knows and who cares in the end. They're both vagabonds now, traveling free and at ease....they don't even look back at the two countries they were fighting on opposite sides for. That's over and done with....that silly war.
5. Short Untitled Twitter Story (Norm MacDonald)
On May 25th of 2015....on Memorial Day....one twitter user typed out his Memorial Day tweet for all his followers to read, he did it in the form of a short story which used roughly 15 "tweets" as they call them.
Now you know with this N. MacDonald character that he often starts these long-winded set-ups just to lead you into a shaggy-dog puncher. Famed celebrity Andy Richter onced described his story telling style as, "it's like leading someone on a two hour walk up a hill just to point out a pile of dog poop"... so you wondered if Mr. MacDonald was just on some shaggy-d set-up with this story...but he wasn't.
When he was done tweeting out his chunks of text which comprised this mini-novel....it was a very well-written short-story....it was one of the best examples of Non-Romanced War fiction ever created.
It was a short tale about a young man sent to war, sent away from his gal and his momma....he was sent to watch the friends he grew up with die in front of him....like that poor soul Richie Bellman from the farm next door to him.
It was a short twitter masterpiece which perfectly encapsulated the style of writing known as Un-Romanced War fiction. It was a very nice Memorial Day story....
.....and then he deleted it. Why? Nobody knows. It's just stuff of legends now....stuff of Writing Legends. It seems No One other than those who read it that night of May 25th shall ever read it.....